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He is equally inaccurate with respect to Mr Garrick, of whom he says, “ He trusted that the least intimation of a desire to come among us, would procure him a ready admission;" but in this he was mistaken. Johnson consulted me upon it; and when I could find no objection to receiving him, exclaimed, · He will disturb us by his buffoonery ;'and afterwards so managed matters, that he was never formally proposed, and, by consequence, never admitted.” (1)
In justice both to Mr. Garrick and Dr. Johnson, I think it necessary to rectify this mis-statement. The truth is, that not very long after the institution of our club, Sir Joshua Reynolds was speaking of it to Garrick. “I like it much,” said he; “ I think I shall be of you.” When Sir Joshua mentioned this to Dr. Johnson, he was much displeased with the actor's conceit. “ He'll be of us,” said Johnson “ how does he know we will permit him ? the first duke in England has no right to hold such language." However, when Garrick was regularly proposed some time afterwards, Johnson, though he had taken a momentary offence at his arrogance, warmly and kindly supported him, and he was accordingly elected, was a most agreeable member, and continued to attend our meetings to the time of his death.
Mrs. Piozzi (?) has also given a similar misrepre
(1) Hawkins probably meant "never" while he himself belonged to the Club.-C. - [Mr. Garrick was elected in Marcb, 1 73.1
(2) Letters to and from Dr. Johnson, vol. ii. p. 387.
sentation of Johnson's treatment of Garrick in this particular, as if he had used these contemptuous expressions : “ If Garrick does apply, I'll blackball him. — Surely, one ought to sit in a society like ours,
“ Unelbow'd by a gamester, pimp, or player." (1) I am happy to be enabled by such unquestionable authority as that of Sir Joshua Reynolds (2), as well as from my own knowledge, to vindicate at once the heart of Johnson and the social merit of Garrick.
In this year, except what he may have done in revising Shakspeare, we do not find that he laboured much in literature. He wrote a review of Grainger's « Sugar Cane,” a poem, in the London Chronicle. He told me, that Dr. Percy wrote the greatest part of this review; but, I imagine, he did not recollect it distinctly, for it appears to be mostly, if not altogether, his own. He also wrote, in the Critical Review, an account t of Goldsmith's excellent poem, “ The Traveller.” (3)
The ease and independence to which he had at last attained by royal munificence, increased his
(I) [“ Is there a lord, who knows a cheerful noon
Without a fiddler, flatt'rer, or buffoon ?
Unelbow'd by a gamester, pimp, or play'r ?”—Popë.] (2) It does not appear how Sir Joshua Reynolds's authority can be made available in this case. The expression is stated to have been used to Mr. Thrale; and the fact, that Garrick was for near ten years excluded from the Club, seems to give but too much colour to this story. - C. (3) [" The Traveller” was published in December, 1764.]
natural indolence. In his “Meditations,” [p. 53.], he thus accuses himself:
“Good Friday, April 20. 1764.- I have made no reformation ; I have lived totally useless, more sensual in thought, and more addicted to wine and meat.”
And next morning he thus feelingly complains:
“My indolence, since my last reception of the sacrament, has sunk into grosser sluggishness, and my dissi. pation spread into wilder negligence. My thoughts have been clouded with sensuality; and, except that from the beginning of this year I have, in some mea. sure, forborne excess of strong drink, my appetites have predominated over my reason.
A kind of strange oblivion has overspread me, so that I know not what has become of the last year; and perceive that incidents and intelligence pass over me without leaving any impres
He then solemnly says, “ This is not the life to which heaven is promised ;” and he earnestly resolves an amendment.
Easter-day, April 22. 1764. Having, before I went to bed, composed the foregoing meditation, and the following prayer; I tried to compose myself, but slept unquietly. I rose, took tea, and prayed for resolution and perseverance. Thought on Tetty, dear poor Tetty, with my eyes full. I went to church ; came in at the first of the Psalms, and endeavoured to attend the service, which I went through without perturbation. After sermon, I recommended Tetty in a prayer by herself; and my father, mother, brother, and Bathurst, in another. I did it only once, so far as it might be lawful for me.
"I then prayed for resolution and perseverance to amend my life. I received soon : the communicants were many. At the altar, it occurred to me that I ought to form some resolutions. I resolved, in the presence of God, but without a vow, to repel sinful thoughts, to study eight hours daily, and, I think, to go to church every Sunday, and read the Scriptures. I gave a shilling; and seeing a poor girl at the sacrament in a bedgown, gave her privately a crown, though I saw Hart's Hymns (') in her hand. I prayed earnestly for amendment, and repeated my prayer at home. Dine with Miss W[illiams]; went to prayers at church; went
(2), spent the evening not pleasantly. Avoided wine, and tempered a very few glasses with sherbet. Came home and prayed. I saw at the sacrament a man meanly dressed, whom I have always seen there at Easter.”
It was his custom to observe certain days with a pious abstraction : viz. New-year’s-day, the day of his wife's death, Good Friday, Easter-day, and his own birth-day. He this year, (on his birth-day,] says,
“I have now spent fifty-five years in resolving ; having, from the earliest time almost that I member, been forming schemes of a better life. I have done nothing. The need of doing, therefore, is pressing, since the time of doing is short. O God, grant me to resolve aright, and to keep my resolutions, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen.”
(1) [" Hymns composed on various Subjects, by the Rev. John Hart, of the Grey Friars' Church, Edinburgh; with a Brief Account of the Author's Experience,” 12mo. 1759.)
(2) In the original MS., instead of this blank are the letters Davi, followed by some other letters which are illegible. They, no doubt, meant either Davies, the bookseller, or David Garrick; most likely the former.-Hall.
Such a tenderness of conscience, such a fervent desire of improvement, will rarely be found. It is, surely, not decent in those who are hardened in indifference to spiritual improvement, to treat this pious anxiety of Johnson with contempt.
About this time he was afflicted with a very severe return of the hypochondriac disorder, which was ever lurking about him. He was so ill, as, notwithstanding his remarkable love of company, to be entirely averse to society, the most fatal symptom of that malady. Dr. Adams told me, that, as an old friend he was admitted to visit him, and that he found him in a deplorable state, sighing, groaning, talking to himself, and restlessly walking from room to room.
He then used this emphatical expression of the misery which he felt : “ I would consent to have a limb ainputated to recover my spirits."
Talking to himself was, indeed, one of his singularities ever since I knew him. I was certain that he was frequently uttering pious ejaculations ; for fragments of the Lord's Prayer have been distinctly overheard. (1) His friend Mr. Thomas Davies, of whom Churchill says,
“ That Davies hath a very pretty wife;"
(1) It used to be imagined at Mr Thrale's, when Johnson retired to a window or corner of the room, by perceiving his lips in motion, and hearing a murmur without audible articulation, that he was praying; but this was not always the case, for I was once, perhaps unperceived by him, writing at a table, so near the place of his retreat, that I heard him repeating some lines in an ode of Horace, over and over again, as if by iteration